PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Providence College men's and women's swimming and diving teams announced their 2015-16 award winners during their 32nd annual end-of-the-year banquet on Sunday, April 10th.
The Luciani Award was awarded to sophomore Katie Fallon (Warren, N.J.). Named for Cindi Luciani '91, this award honors the women's Most Valuable Student-Athlete in dual and championship meet competition as voted by team members and coaching staff. At the BIG EAST Championships, Fallon led the Friars with top 8 performance in addition to her relay swims. Fallon finished 5th in the 500 yard Freestyle and broke her school record with a time of 4:56.56. She placed 6th in the 200 Yard Freestyle and 8th in the 1650 Yard Freestyle. In dual meet competition, she also broke the school record in the 800 Meter Freestyle and led the Friars in team scoring during the season, setting a single season record with 446.25 points.
Junior Zach Begnaud (Natchitoches, LA.) was honored with the Horace Bowden Award for the first time. Named for Horace Bowden '89, this award honors the men's Most Valuable Student-Athlete in dual and championship meet competition, as voted by the coaching staff and team members. Begnaud led the Friars in team scoring during the season with 305.75 points, recording lifetime best times while swimming both sprint and distance freestyle events and leading the Friars to the team title at the Harold Anderson Invitational.
Freshmen Abby Czerniecki (Haddonfield, N.J.) joins Ricky Billig (Sudbury, MA) and Jonathan Batista (Southborough, MA) as winners of the O'Neill Family Award. Created in 2008 and named for Head Coach John O'Neill, the O'Neill Family Award honors the most valuable male and female freshmen athletes in meet competitions, as voted on by the team and coaching staff. Czerniecki led the Friars in the sprint Breaststroke event and was the top scorer among the Friar freshmen. Billig and Batista were outstanding additions to the Friar line-up, scoring consistently in the Backstrokes, Individual Medley, and Freestyle events. The Freshmen finished the year ranked 2nd and 3rd in team scoring, recording all-time top ten performances in their individual events.
Junior Katie Ainley (Rehobeth, MA.) won the Clara Lamore Walker Award, while sophomore Austin McGowan (Mansfield, MA.) earned recognition with the Jan and Brian Larkin Award. These awards recognize the female and male athletes who have improved the most during the season, as voted on by the team and coaching staff. Ainley had an outstanding season, culminating with lifetime best performances in 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke while breaking the school record in the 200 Breaststroke (2:23.00) at the BIG EAST Championship. McGowan's outstanding overall versatility and continued improvement in the Butterfly events were keys to helping develop a stronger Friar line up as the season progressed.
Sophomore Kendall Jerzyk (Madison, Conn.) was again recognized with the Sears Diving Award. This award, named for Patrick Sears '88 and Kevin Sears '93, honors the athlete who makes an outstanding contribution to the sport of diving at Providence College. Jerzyk repeated a third-place finish at the BIG EAST Championships with 441.40 points on the one-meter board. Jerzyk earned All-Conference Honors for the second time in as many years.
Juniors Mary McKenna (Wethersfield, CT.) and Kurt Grunder (Binghamton, NY.) were honored with the David Hardy Coach's Award. Named for David Hardy '89, this award honors the male and female student-athletes who exhibit those qualities which Hardy brought to the swimming and diving team: loyalty, dedication, good sportsmanship, and outstanding effort in the pool and in the classroom. McKenna recorded lifetime best times at the BIG EAST after a strong junior year that saw this consistent freestyle swimmer continue her impressive career. Grunder, one the team's most versatile swimmers ever, is a three time BIG EAST scorer for the Friars in the Breaststroke while also competing for the team in the IM, Butterfly and Backstroke events.
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